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Environmental marine litter monitoring

The problem of plastic contamination in oceans, coastal areas and riverbanks has attracted considerable media attention. Brunel has been working on the impact of plastics in the environment from different perspectives in the past decade through the evaluation of macroplastic in the ocean, microplastics in the sewage systems and in seashells. The expertise acquired through these projects made possible the collaborations that are at the core of this new study.

Monitoring technology and services

This study, supported by the European Space Agency’s Space Solutions initiative, is aimed at developing new environmental monitoring technology and services to help combat the global marine litter crisis. In collaboration with CGG (leading partner) and Mott MacDonald, we will be working on this technical feasibility and commercial viability pathway to identify a service aimed at identifying macro-and micro-plastic clusters, policy barriers and the environmental and societal impacts of marine litter.

During the study, we will liaise with stakeholders to understand their requirements and needs, with the objective of designing a new service that really fits the demand.

Microplastic contamination index

Brunel University researchers will focus on two main streams of work: Dr Lorna Anguilano and Dr Uchechukwu Onwukwe will work on defining a methodology to assess the microplastic contamination index in coastal areas.

This is the identification and quantification of microplastics types and morphologies within the sediments of the coast and riverbanks. Such identification will allow us to understand sources of material and patterns of microplastic clusters degradation, offering the base to tackle the issue.

Global policy concerning plastics waste 

In parallel, Dr Lesley Henderson Group Leader of the Sustainable Plastics Research Group at Brunel (SplasH) will advise on the global policy concerning plastics waste as well as the opportunities generated by satellite imagery for education and public awareness campaigns.

A false colour image of CH bonding obtained using microFTIR, indicating microplastics
A false colour image of CH bonding obtained using microFTIR, indicating microplastics

Meet the Principal Investigator(s) for the project

Dr Lorna Anguilano
Dr Lorna Anguilano - Lorna Anguilano is a Senior Research Fellow, Quality Manager of the Experimental Techniques Centre and the Assistant Director of the Wolfson Centre for Sustainable materials development and Processing. Lorna’s background is in applied mineralogy with a PhD in Archaeometallurgy and a wide experience of material characterisation through X-Ray Diffraction, X-Ray Fluorescence, Scanning Electron Microscopy and Electron Back-Scattering Diffraction. She provides consultancy in material characterisation and failure’s diagnosis as well as actively generates and develops research in materials characterisation and development. Her research focuses on the overarching concept of upcycling waste and recovery of secondary raw material with a keen interest on metal and polymer recycling for energy and aquaculture applications and phytomining of critical raw materials. Lorna is also continuing her research in the archaometallurgical field.

Related Research Group(s)


Design for Sustainability - We focus on developing the theory and practice required to design solutions that foster environmental, socio-ethical and economic sustainability in areas ranging from materials and manufacturing to products, services, business models, bottom-up initiatives and socio-technical systems.


Wolfson Centre for Sustainable Materials Development and Processing - Research into the development and processing of new materials including nano-materials, nano-phosphors and nanostructured carbon, biofuels, polymers and bio-polymers.

Partnering with confidence

Organisations interested in our research can partner with us with confidence backed by an external and independent benchmark: The Knowledge Exchange Framework. Read more.

Project last modified 02/10/2023